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Packed season ahead for the Ellis Nature Centre

Staff at the Ellis Nature Centre are thrilled to delve into the summer season with a full line-up of events and activities that showcase what the facility is all about.

"The newest addition to our site this year is our two Modular Agricultural Classrooms, which were designed in partnership with EcoTree, thanks to a Co-Op Community Spaces Grant we received last year," said Claire Stange, the centre's education coordinator.

The centre is located on Range Road 260 in Lacombe County, near Joffre.

"These classrooms house our chicken coop and Bee Box. The chicken coop is home to our 14 hens, which have already been a hit with our field trip groups in May and June. We're selling the eggs from the hens for three dollars a dozen in our visitor centre, and all proceeds support our educational programs."

Stange explained that the Bee Box is the centre's honey processing unit.

"We have four bee hives on our site and expect to begin harvesting honey from them at the start of July," she said.

"We're estimating we'll receive about 600 pounds of honey each year, half of which will come to us and half of which will go to EcoTree and the 4-H group that has helped us with this project. The honey will be for sale on our site and we'll be offering bee programming for those interested in learning more about the honey harvesting process.

"Folks can keep an eye on our website for more information about the bee programs soon," said Stange.

Meanwhile, coming up is the annual Bluebird Festival which runs July 13. 

"This event focuses on the wonderful birds that call Central Alberta home," she explained.

"This year, we'll have bird banding demonstrations, a talk about kestrel migrations, an update on our Mountain Bluebird research, and an inside look at a purple martin condo."

Another summer highlight is the annual Bug Jamboree, slated for Aug. 10.

"We'll have the presenters that everyone has come to love: John Acorn (The Nature Nut), Ben Acorn, Charity Briere, Dave Lawrie, Ilan Domnich, and Ken Fry," said Stange.

"New this year, we'll also be sharing nature documentaries about various topics. The best part about these events is getting people out to experience nature, and to see them connect with some of the tiniest critters they may not have paid much attention to before."

This past April, after 42 years as the Ellis Bird Farm, staff announced they were moving forward with an updated name for the site.

“Our core values of education, research, and stewardship remain the same and we are honoured to continue the Ellis’s legacy as the Ellis Nature Centre,” noted a release at the time.

The re-branding included a new logo and website ( unveiled in May.

"Overall, the new name has been very well received, and most people we've spoken with have shared that they think the new name fits what we do a lot better," said Stange.

"Everyone is thankful that we kept the Ellis name front and centre, and of course, we couldn't have imagined doing it any differently. If it hadn't been for the foresight of Charlie and Winnie (Ellis) to preserve their land so that people could connect with wildlife and agriculture, we wouldn't exist today," she added.

For Stange, her work provides a constant sense of joy and fulfillment.

"What I enjoy most about my role at Ellis Nature Centre is how many people can come out to our site and connect to nature here. In today's age, many people have become disconnected from nature, so our site allows them the chance to reconnect.

"I also believe we are unique, as we are admission by donation. Everyone should be able to experience nature without worrying about the price tag associated with a visit to a site like ours," she said.

"In my role, I also plan, coordinate, and run all of our educational programs, so I get to see first-hand the excitement and joy children experience when they do a program on our site and engage with nature through hands-on discovery.

"It's very rewarding to see children forge a connection with nature when they spend time with us."

Head to for more details on upcoming events, kids' summer programs, or information on donating to support the centre's ongoing work.




Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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